Before most people had a bath in their house in Japan, public bathhouses or sento were more than just a place to bathe. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, everyone dipped in the same bath tub sharing the same space and experience. It was a place of cleansing, relaxing, catching up with friends, and meeting new people. Below is our list of retro sento in Tokyo which will take you back to the memories from the good old days in Japan.
Photo Credit: Sun Taro@flickr
Located in the middle of a neighborhood where old Tokyo still lives, Teikoku-yu has been in the lives of the local people since 1916. This building was built about 60 years ago. A huge mural with Mt. Fuji is a classic sento element. There are three different bath tubs; shallow, deep, and herbal. The wooden window flames show the long history of the building.
The gorgeous wooden ceiling is the first thing that catches your eye in the changing room. On the contrary to the colorful bathroom, this room is rather classy-looking with the abundant use of polished wood. coin-op laundry machines and massage machines are available.
Right outside the changing room is a cute little garden with a koi pond. You are welcome to relax and cool down after the bath on this nice deck by the garden. If you’d like, you are also free to go back to the bath one last time before leaving.
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Address: 3-22-3 Higashinipporri, Arakawa, Tokyo
Access: 6 minute walk from Mikawashima station
Hours: 3:00 PM ~ 12:00 AM
*Closed on Monday
Fee: 460 yen
Phone: o3 3891-4637
Website: Teikoku-yu (Japanese)
Inari-yu is one of the oldest bathhouse buildings in japan which was built in 1930. A Japanese hit movie Thermae Tomae was filmed here. The vintage style entrance. This sento has a traditional Bandai which means there is someone sitting inside the changing room in between the men’s side and women’s side so he/she can watch and receive fees from both sides.
Although the exterior has kept its classic style since 1930, the interior was largely renovated in 2014. It’s very clean and polished. They have three tubs ranging from very hot, hot, and warm. Don’t feel rushed after the bath. Make sure you get a drink, relax, and let the bath experience soak into you at the garden.
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Address: 6-27-14 Takinogawa, Kita Ward, Tokyo
Access: 6 minute walk from Itabashi station
Hours: 2:50 PM – 1:15 AM
*Closed on Wednesdays
Fees: 460 yen
Phone: 03 3916-0523
Website: Takinogawa Inariyu Facebook page
Photo Credit: slowtime.net
The bathouse built in 1938 is still standing strong today. It has been renovated since then, and the inside is very clean and spacious. Their herbal bath water has different herbs everyday. Takara-yu is most famous for its beautiful Japanese garden. You can enjoy this nice garden from your bath tub as well. Unfortunately, this garden isn’t accessible from the women side. There is a smaller garden next to the women’s bathroom.
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Address: 27-1 senju motomachi, Adachi, Tokyo
Access: 18 minute walk from Kita-senju station
Hour: 3:00 PM – 11:30 PM
*Closed on Fridays
Fees: 460 yen
Phone: 03 3881-2660
Website: Takara-yu (Japanese)
Photo Credit: Kabacchi@flickr
Atami-yu was open in 1954 and not much has changed since then. Although many sento has installed gas boilers, Atami-yu still heat their bath water with firewood. It’s a hidden gem in the maze of Kagurazaka. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll probably miss it. The wall mural was recently repainted, but the iconic Mt. Fuji is still there. Their bath water is famous for being very hot. Herbal bath is also available. Also they have a free towel rental.
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Address: 3-6 Kagurazaka, Shinjyuku Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Iidabashi station
Hours: 3:00pm ~ 12:30am
*Closed on Saturday
Fees: 460 yen
Phone: 03 3260-1053
Website: Tokyo sento map Atamiyu (Japanese)